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A Guide to Information on Greenhouse Gases and Ozone Depletion
Published July 1988 through June 1999


European Perspectives

Item #d99may47

According to a story carried on the Reuters newsline, on May 12, 1999, the European Union governments agreed on a common approach for controlling emissions of greenhouse gases. Under the agreement, at least half of the EU’s commitments to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions must be met by actual domestic reductions rather than through the exercise of flexible mechanisms. The EU must cut its greenhouse-gas emissions to 8% below 1990 levels by 2012 under the Kyoto accord. It had alrerady been decided that these cuts are to be shared among the 15 EU members, depending on (1) current pollution levels and (2) level of industrial development. According to this formula, Luxembourg must cut its emissions 28%, while Portugal can increase its emissions 27%. The 50% rule was adopted as a way to keep other developed countries from “wriggling out of their commitments.”

The May 7, 1999, Financial Times reported that BG (British Gas), a natural gas pipeline operator and producer, warned its commercial customers that gas prices could rise 30 to 40% if the climate change levy proposed by the government went into effect. In such a case, BG estimates that business and industrial gas demand could fall more than 8% and total gas demand could fall 2.5%.

France, according to a May 5, 1999, dispatch by Reuters, has called for EU energy rates to vary proportionally to the amount of carbon dioxide produced. France generates about 75% of its electricity by nuclear power and argues that that energy source should not be penalized to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. A specific carbon tax should be levied, they contend, rather than a general tax on all energy sources. The EU noted that nothing was to stop France from designing its national tax structure to penalize CO2 producers, but that should not replace a uniform tax on all energy sources. The French government also called for tax hikes on transport fuels to speed the development of alternative transport strategies.

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